Thursday morning we were up and away handy from our snug stop at Elia, decision time, either try the pass over the mountains at Kosmas for a second time, or take a long route around. Just looking up at the mountains we knew it wasn’t going to happen, the snow was still there and it was forecast for a little more to fall. We checked out as much as we could on the internet, as we saw that the road rises to just over 1100 metres or 3600 ft – so as that’s higher than Mt. Snowdon – we decided to give it a miss.
Plan B then is up past Sparti and then due North to Tripoli, our first confusion of the day as we felt sure that was in Libya (our geography is appalling but we live and learn). As we neared Tripoli we were climbing in the mountains, again, this time the snow-plough had cleared two lanes and despite an inch or so of snow on the verges the main road was plenty clear, enough to drive over with no problems. As we approached Tripoli we were doing the smug ‘made it’ and really not bothered about route. We were aiming for Nafplio, so we turned right and set our destination to Argos (again, what is that all about, calling towns after shops). Lesson about to be learned in the Peloponnese – there are lots of mountains! and guess what we are on our way over another one. This time its Mount Parthenios, another 3900 ft of solid rock nicely iced in fresh snow, one lane just about open all the way over – the middle lane. Lucky for us we took said lane and didn’t meet another vehicle for nearly 4 miles and when we did there was room enough to slide gracefully around each other as the snow was down to a light dusting at that point.
We come from Wales, we can do a bit of snow. We seriously under-estimated the snow in Greece and to be honest on one occasion we were slightly out of our depth (yup in more ways than one). We have snow tyres – result – we knew spending all that money would come in handy. If we hadn’t then we would not have made it as far up the mountain towards Kosmas on Wednesday (could have been a good thing) but also coming back down could have been a whole lot worse. Likewise Thursday we probably wouldn’t have continued over Mt Parthenios without snow tyres, we now have a greater love for our Cleibers than we ever thought probable.
Moving away from snow, we rounded the top of Mt Partheneios and could see the Argolikos Gulf straight ahead, sun shinning over the sea and all was back well with our world. We pulled over for lunch just outside Nafplio and for the first time in a few days there was warmth back in the sunshine. As we drove through Nafplio we couldn’t make up our minds, bustling, very trendy looking shops, lots of posh cars and the first time we have experienced a feeling of a bit of wealth and style in Greece. Even the town itself has three castles so it doesn’t skimp on attractions, the one set in the bay just off the harbour is without doubt the icing on the cake in terms of the postcard scene stakes.
We set ourselves up at Triton II campsite, a few miles down the coast and next to a pretty good looking beach. A very well kept campsite where the only complaint so far is the amount of feral cats and dogs – they are sat outside the van all day expecting tit-bits. There isn’t any real booking in system here, you just stay as long as you want ans when you are ready to go search out someone to pay. The facilities are lovely and as we had been off site for a few days I headed straight for a good shower as soon as we were set up. All very modern, new and clean but I have to confess my first thought was the shower head is very small and doesn’t hang up and that is without doubt the biggest plughole I have yet to see. Okay it took less than 20 seconds for me too, I left and went to the showers! (if you need help with that last sentence the first cubicle was for ladies who ‘stand-up’).
Outside the campsite entrance
The weather itself was a bit under the weather for a couple of days, warm enough but cloudy and overcast for a few days. We took a walk to Tolo just a mile or two up the beach, lots of small hotels and a couple of open tourist shops. It seems a fairly newish 1960’s type resort, nowhere near as smart as Nafplio and really doesn’t seem to try and compete. It must cater for a hefty summer tourist trade but guess that’s more for those just wanting the sunshine, sea and tavernas rather than the glitz and style of Nafplio. Nothing there we could say was amazing and nothing we could say was awful, maybe it was the weather being grey made the town seem a bit too.
Tolo – a bit grey
Not our sunniest of days
In the opposite direction we found a small lane that ran adjacent to a large inland body of water, we know not what it was maybe a nature reserve? at the end it joined the sea inlet and according to Google there would be a crossing of sorts to Vivari, so we could walk back around the other side of the lake. Of course there wasn’t a crossing, whatever may have been there once was now just a skeleton and looking like its days were very numbered. So we walked back whence we came, stopped in Drepano village for a wander and a loaf from the bakers, we noticed again that people here tend to use tractors as much as cars. As we walked through the village square there were nearly as many tractors parked up as cars, it seems they are the usual form of transport for many. Then it was back to camp where Iain spent the afternoon washing off so much dirt and grime that the van must be weighing a good few kilos lighter.
the sun coming back on the beach at the campsite
The best campsite bungalows – you live upstairs and have underneath for your table and chairs
The world of motorhomers in Greece is so small its incredible. We have been joined on site yesterday by Tony, who was until a couple of days ago camped with Michael, who is now over in Finikounda parked up with Roland and Claire, with whom we were on a campsite last week in Gytheio, who met with Norman and Marion in Lidl, who we parked up with on a pier two weeks ago. We come across many of the same vans and people where ever we go, its a little like being part of a roving community where you slightly know most of the people, if not to speak to them to nod to at least. We were discussing the other night that to the locals it must be just like a winter influx of gypsies and I guess in a way that is what the winter stayers who travel around the Peloponnese for 2-3 months really are. Iain needs to watch out as that tan and the long hair are beginning to give him a Roma look, next thing he will be buying clothes pegs and lucky heather and starting his own little business.
We have now passed into the unknown territory of the three digit number – today being Day 105 of our travels. Our previous longish term trips have been around the 90 days mark, it may just be a number but for us it marks an achievement – over 100 days and neither of us has murdered the other:) In all honestly the only real differences of opinion are to do with navigation, maybe more honestly expressed as me getting us lost. As we have covered just over 4000 miles in the last 3 months though we haven’t done too badly in terms of wrong slots. Other than that we aren’t finding living in a 6 metre x 2.5 metres box at all stressful, its exactly the opposite as we are both very chilled and very much loving our life as wandering travelers. We have a good clear divide of responsibilities, Iain does Logistics and I do Catering, nearly all jobs fall into one or the other category. Budget comes under Catering, no idea why but it does, so I am currently patting my own back as we have now covered the cost of that ‘unexpected ferry’ from Italy to Greece and remained under budget.
This morning, Sunday, the sun came back and then some. Time to head out for some Greek ruin viewing. I am trying to limit the number of these as they are not totally Iain’s cup of tea but every now and again we find one that even he is more impressed with than he thought possible. Today was one of those days, the Great Theatre of Epidaurus, built in 340 BC and rediscovered less than 150 years ago, yet again Greece pulls out yet another ancient monument that is even better than anything we have seen before.
Other than being spectacular to look at it is famed for having exceptional acoustics, supposedly the sound of a match struck on the centre stage can be heard perfectly clearly at any seat within the theatre. Whilst we were there a British school party arrived and the youngsters took it in turns to enact small dramas from the centre stage, whilst others climbed to the top rows to listen. In a word, yes, you can hear a word spoken at a normal level on stage perfectly clearly in the top rows. The position of the theatre is such that the mountains behind create a perfect backdrop to the stage, the overall effect is just beautiful. Really speaking only the first 14 rows are Greek, the Romans loved the place so much they increased the size of the theatre by adding another 21 rows.
Tomorrow we are heading down towards Spetses for a few days, check out the ferry and maybe pop over so we can say we ‘did a Greek island’. Then its round to Ermioni and look for somewhere to enjoy the sunshine we have forecast for a few days.